Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WEST PORTSMOUTH — There will be a new head coach roaming the sidelines at West this coming fall, but it surely won’t be an unfamiliar face.
For the past four seasons, Todd Gilliand has helped the Senators build onto an already rich football tradition. When the 2021 season rolls around, he’ll be wearing the main headset.
“To say I’m excited would be an understatement,” Gilliland said. “The team makes it easy to be excited with their work ethic and attitude. They are a great group to work with. Getting to work with this group and see them grow as players and as young men is an awesome experience.”
Gilliland’s predecessor Ben Johnson, who resigned after seven seasons and accepted a head coaching position at Wayne High School, led the Senators to a 38-36 record during his tenure.
That mark included a Division V regional semifinal appearance in 2017 and two playoff wins.
West is used to success on the gridiron. Gilliland doesn’t expect that to change in 2021.
“We have high expectations. We want to get better every day, and continue to build the program,” Gilliland said.
Gilliland knows just what it takes to build a program as his football coaching resume speaks for itself.
He’s been coaching since 1998 when he accepted a junior high assistant position at East. As he coursed through college, he continued to perfect his craft and eventually found himself at the varsity level.
When he began teaching at East in 2003, he was an assistant for seven years before accepting the head coaching position in 2010. He spent five years with the Tartans before teaching and coaching at Green for a year. Then, in 2017, he became an assistant at West.
“Since I’ve been part of the Washington-Nile school district, I’ve felt right at home,” Gilliland said. “I love the school and students and have made great connections since I’ve been here. I’ve always had the thought of getting back to being a head coach again and when the opportunity arose, it was something I knew I wanted to do.”
Gilliland’s first game as the Senators’ head coach will come in front of a home crowd against Fairland. West will then take on Portsmouth, Adena, Wellston and KIPP Columbus before moving to its always difficult Southern Ohio Conference schedule.
No worries, though. Gilliland is ready for the challenge.
“We know it won’t be easy but we want to battle for league titles on a yearly basis and build a program that is a state playoff contender each year,” Gilliand said.